Remote controlled automatic gates are a convenience that many can't live without. Most houses are equipped with them nowadays. It makes life easier doesn't it, when you don't have to get out of your car to open your gate, especially if its raining. But, steps must be taken to make sure that your canine companions do not pay a price for this luxury.
In the last few months I have heard about three terrible accidents involving dogs and automatic gates. My brother's colleague accidentally closed his automatic gate on his dog's head. He didn't realize his dog was in the way and the dog lost an eye. In the second incident, the young puppy was playing at the end of the driveway and the owner accidentally closed the automatic gate on the pup's body, breaking his spine. This poor pup is now paralyzed from the waist down. The third case involves my own dear precious former foster puppy, Holly.
I don't know much about the first two pooches' backgrounds but i know enough about Holly's to have been totally crushed when i heard that she was dead. She was rescued from the infamous DBKL Setapak Pound by Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB). This was after allegations of shocking animal cruelty at the pound came to light. Witnesses spoke of beatings, drownings, and even strangulation. The people at MDDB rescued as many as they could. Holly was one of these rescued pups and I became her foster mother. I had never met such a traumatized puppy before. She was a trembling little bundle of bones. Her eyes were full of fear and worry. She wouldn't make eye contact with anyone, choosing instead to look down at her feet or face the wall. A large, raw, gaping wound on her back right above her tail had been left untreated at the pound and turned into a soggy, festering mess.
All the sadness and suffering in her young life makes her death so much more tragic because it came at a time when she had just become happy. After a few weeks out of the pound she had really flourished. She became playful and loving. That nasty wound on her back healed and she was enjoying life. Her gorgeous soulful eyes were filled with light instead of worry. She was adopted by a nice family that had a large house with a pretty garden in a good neighborhood. There she enjoyed indoor living and had the run of the entire compound. She was very loved by the three children and their parents. She even made friends with a rabbit, a turtle, and a kitten. Life was good. Then one day about 3 months after she was adopted, someone opened the automatic gate without checking to make sure all the pets were secure inside, and Holly playfully dashed out. She was immediately run over by a car that happened to be passing by. I'll never forget when they told me she was dead. I couldn't stop crying.
Please please please make sure your dog is secure before you open your gate. The problem with an automatic gate lies in its convenience. At the push of a button it opens; the act of being there and physically opening the gate is taken away. That makes it so easy to forget to check on your dog. Some people hit the button before they're even right in front of the gate. Don't take things for granted. Leash him, have someone hold on to him, make sure he's inside the house, train him to stay in his crate when you are about to leave or enter your compound. My dog Spike knows to sit in his crate whenever someone wants to open the gate unless he is told otherwise. He sits patiently inside until the gate has been closed again. If he's not in an obedient mood, I'll get out of my car, open the gate enough for me to fit through, leash him to the front door, then open the gate all the way and drive in. Sure, its not super convenient but its not difficult either. Just a little effort for your dog's safety and your peace of mind.
Rest in peace Holly.
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